New Delhi: Encouraged by a rise in exports in 2010-11, the government on Tuesday set a target more than doubling India's annual exports to USD 500 billion by 2013-14, despite global events posing challenges in the current year.

"We must aim for more than a doubling of exports in three years to USD 500 billion. This is achievable, with a determined effort. More importantly, we cannot afford any less than this," according to a strategy paper released by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma here.

The country's exports should grow annually by 26.7 per cent in order to achieve the USD 500-billion mark.

The export drive would be led by sectors like engineering, gems and jewellery, chemicals and textiles.

The final strategy paper (2011-12 to 2013-14) further said, increased imports are unavoidable for feeding an economy which aspires to grow by 9-10 per cent.

Sharma said the strategy hinges on aggressive marketing of 'Brand India' and reducing transaction cost to make exports more competitive.

'The Strategy for Doubling Exports in Next Three Years' was released after extensive discussions on its draft paper released in March. The draft paper was aimed at increasing the exports to at least USD 450 billion.

"We have, therefore, no option but to focus on higher export growth and devise a strategy for rapidly increasing merchandise exports to ensure that the Balance of Trade and Current Account Deficit remain within manageable limits," the paper said.

However, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar cautioned exporters for the year 2011 which is likely to be a "very" difficult.

"It is going to be damn hard doing 20 per cent (exports growth rate in this fiscal) even this year because Japan is in trouble, Europe is in trouble and the US is in trouble," Khullar said, adding, "if you get USD 500 billion in three years, it will be a really huge achievement".

India's exports in this fiscal is likely to be in the range of USD 260 billion to USD 275 billion, sources said.